It’s been a long time since I wrote something for “The Thing About Skins.”
Heck, since the last time I wrote, all kinds of major pop culture events have been happening left and right. To tell you the truth, I actually had something written about the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary shootings…but I’m still sorting out my feelings on that one. That one hurt and was wayyy too close to home. Prayers and smudge and Hail Marys and everything else to all those affected by this disgusting act, and hopefully the people who are supposed to be against semi-automatic guns, specifically the supposed-liberals, will actually take some action against it, instead of just making cool speeches.
Deborah Parker speaking about Violence Against Women Act at Seattle Idle No More rally. Image courtesy Alex Garland Photography
Also, since my last column, the always-overexposed Kim Kardashian and Kanye West conceived a child. (Is it just me, or does he just have the appearance that he stinks? Not musically stinks, but like literally “doesn’t wear deodorant because he thinks it messes with his creative process” stinks? Maybe it’s just me.) I suppose that one also hit close to home—congratulations on having unprotected sex, geniuses. Also the whole, so-called “Fiscal Cliff” situation’s been happening, and that sounds like something I literally have zero interest in…plus, it sounds like a drug dealer name: Fiscal Cliff. Like “Money Mike” (no, not “Magic Mike,” ladies, don’t get excited).
Oh yeah, the world didn’t end either.
Where have I been? Well, after traveling so much the past 5 or 6 months, I’ve been home, doped up, sex-slave-style, on tryptophan, round dances, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. When I have been home, I found myself trying to keep my son from breaking and entering into his presents. I remember those days well—I’d try to act surprised about my gifts on Christmas morning when, in fact, I had already played with them, broken them, and put them back together again by then.
Plus, I’m really not crazy about Indian Country Today Media Network’s new on-line format (although I know they'll get it right in the end). I’m trying to get used to it, but I find myself posting on Facebook and sexting sending poetic text messages instead of writing columns quite a bit more these days.
In either event, I figured that I better write something for New Years. It’s kinda a tradition. Plus, there’s some cool stuff coming up in the very near future and I need to cover those things, yet I feel guilty about pumping those things up before really saying “Happy New Year” to everyone.
“Happy New Year!”
Anyway, I just wanted to give a couple of current event tidbits before concluding this column:
1) Probably the biggest story in Indian country in years—from a grassroots perspective—is the Idle No More movement. All the Skins who think that want to do big stuff in Indian country should take notice and get o -board; this isn’t going away. The Idle No More movement reawakened the centuries old Native resistance to colonization and non-sustainable living; it’s not a “new” movement, by any stretch, but many of us forgot that we were actually fighting on a daily basis. Idle No More is the reminder—if you look at any of the comments from the Canadian newspapers about First Nations people, you’d understand the depth of the fight. The movement resembles the “Occupy” Movement in many ways—which is both good and bad—but the coolest part about it is that it has transcended being about one topic—any Native can take the energy and run with it as an inspiration to do positive work for our people. Native people who want to work against Native suicide? Idle No More. Native people who seek to work for Native representation in mainstream government? Idle No More. Etc, etc. The movement speaks to so many of Indigenous peoples’ aspirations and needs. Silence = death for Native people—silence about the dysfunction within our communities, silence about our peoples’ success stories, silence about the needs that we must address. Idle No More is the opposite of silence—Idle No More, Silence No More. It is powerful and will only expand.
2) The Native-owned publishing company that I am part-owner of, Cut Bank Creek Press (www.cutbankcreekpress.com), is giving four academic scholarships for Native students in 2013. The scholarships are for the winners of the “Speakin’ in Indian Speech Contest,” which will happen in the next few months. All the details are on the website. We’ve been able to secure such amazing judges for the contest as Winona LaDuke (my hero), Dallas Goldtooth, Steven Paul Judd, Mike Lafromboise and fellow The Thing About Skins writer, Christina M. Castro. The purpose of the scholarship/contest is simple: Native people come from an incredible lineage of compelling orators. We’ve gotten away from that. We want to encourage Native students to aspire to become amazing and powerful public speakers who can influence with their words because, once again, silence is death for our people. The NABI Foundation (www.nabifoundation.org) and Red Eagle Soaring, a Native theater group (www.redeaglesoaring.org) are graciously co-sponsoring the scholarship/contest.
Idle No more. Silent No More. We cannot afford it. I’m thankful to all of those Natives working to groom rabble-rousers and activists who can speak persuasively and can lead a new generation of Native people who will not accept less than we deserve. Our women deserve Magic Mike, nothing less. Definitely not Money Mike—no Magic Mike, no peace.
Oh yeah, and full recognition and respect for treaty rights.
Happy New Year.
Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and his family also belongs to the Suquamish Nation. He wrote a book called Don’t Know Much About Indians (but i wrote a book about us anyways) which you can get at DKMAI.com. He is also co-authoring a new book called “Of Course I’m a Boy, Silly!”, and the website and publishing company for that handy-dandy book is www.cutbankcreekpress.com. He also semi-does the twitter thing at @BigIndianGyasi